Who Are Those Young Libertarian Org Scholars?

14 August 2007 at 6:48 am Leave a comment

| Nicolai Foss |

In his keynote address to the 2006 meeting in Bergen (Norway) of the European Group for Organizational Studies, Jim March notes that “European organization studies were influenced deeply by the fact that expansion occurred in the decades following the protest and counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s . . . [as seen] . . . in such things as qualitative research on culture, gender, sense-making, social construction and power” (p. 14).

He goes on to talk about a profound change in organization studies, taking place under the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Empire:

The . . . result of the triumphs of markets in Europe and North America was an effect on young radical scholars. The new radicals were libertarian liberals, and markets became the preferred revolutionary mode of organizing, in the public sector as well as the private. The preeminence of markets was taken for granted, and discovering the factors contributing to individual or organizational success within a market system, or discovering new uses of markets as instruments of organizing, became prototypical forms of research in organization studies. Just as young scholars entering the field in the 1950s had been drawn to science and young scholars in the 1970s had been drawn to the humanities, young scholars in the 1990s were drawn to markets (p. 15).

I confess to being completely baffled by these statements. While March is entirely correct in pointing to the 1960s counter-culture, now very much an establishment culture, as extremely important for shaping the mindset of (particularly Euro) organization scholars, I cannot at all recognize the alleged infatuation with markets that young org scholars entertain according to March. Although I have only attended a single EGOS meeting I recall no praise of the market system, but much critique. I don’t know (of) a single young Euro org scholar who can reasonably be described as a “libertarian liberal” (but several libertine liberals).  Those young org scholars I know are usually fiercely opposed to what they call “neo-liberalism.” And so on.

Perhaps I am just ill-informed. Perhaps some of those young libertarian org scholars really exist and read O&M. If so, let us know. . . .

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Myths and Realities.

Economic Freedom and Entrepreneurial Activity São Paulo Workshop on Institutions and Organizations

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